COM0011 Blog 3 —Social Media and Poor Sleep: Cause or Effect?

Two recently completed research projects looked at the relation between social media use and sleep. While they came to two different conclusions, they seem to point to a potential spiral effect.

High social media use causes sleep problems

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studied 1,788 Americans ages 19 to 32 from across the country in 2014. Participants filled out questionnaires about the time they spent each day on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, SnapChat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn and the frequency each week. Researchers also assess sleep disturbances with an established scientific system.

On average, participants used social media about an hour per day and 30 times per week. Nearly 30 per cent had high levels of sleep disturbance.

Adjusting for socio-demographic differences, researchers found that participants in the highest 25 per cent of use per day were nearly twice as likely to have sleep disturbances as those in the lowest quartile. Participants in the highest 25 per cent of frequency per week were nearly three times as likely to have sleep problems as those in the lowest quartile. According to lead researcher Jessica C. Levenson:

“This may indicate that frequency of social media visits is a better predictor of sleep difficulty than overall time spent on social media…. If this is the case, then interventions that counter obsessive checking behavior may be most effective.”

The researcher team suggests physicians consider asking patients about social media habits when assessing sleep issues. Interestingly, though, they acknowledge the possibility that participants used social media to pass the time when they could not fall asleep or return to sleep.

Sleep problems cause high Facebook use

While a significant amount of research has looked at how technology affects sleep, researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) turned the idea around and looked at how sleep affected technology usage.

The researchers collected data from 24 male and 42 female UCI undergraduate students for seven days during the spring of 2014. Taking into consideration the students’ gender, age, course load and deadlines, the team of researchers measured students’ behaviour, activities and stress levels. The team did this by using sensors and installing software on the participants’ computers and smart phones that logged and time stamped when they switched from one application window to another or used their phones. Students also completed a sleep survey each morning and an end-of-day survey each night.

The UCI team found that a lack of sleep — which causes tiredness, irritability (bad mood) and distractibility — leads to more frequent online activities, such as browsing Facebook. According to lead researcher Gloria Mark:

“When you get less sleep, you’re more prone to distraction…. If you’re being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It’s lightweight, it’s easy, and you’re tired.”

Mark and her team found that the less sleep students had, the more frequently their attention shifted among different computer screens, suggesting heightened distractibility.

The UCI researchers say their results reveal a direct link among chronic lack of sleep, worsening mood and greater reliance on Facebook browsing. The Pittsburgh researchers say high social media use is linked to sleep disturbances. So lack of sleep can cause higher social media use, which, in turn, can cause sleep problems, which, in turn, can cause… a spiralling problem. The question now becomes how best to break the spiral.

COM0011 Post #4 – The Evolution of Hate

To every positive, there is a negative. Social Media has given us the power to share our thoughts, feelings, interests, and more, and connect with people all over the world like we never could before. It’s a powerful tool with many positive aspects. However, this power has also allowed people to use it for a more darker purpose. It comes in many shapes and forms, but when it boils down to it, it’s simply known as Cyber Bullying.

I ask you to direct your attention to the short video below, as it describes the basics of what Cyber Bullying consists of- if you don’t know already.

Now, I’m sure this is a concept that isn’t new to you. However, it’s becoming a bigger problem on a much larger scale. Teens are falling under the pressures of these poisonous individuals and their increasingly vicious words. I have a few examples of just how atrocious these anonymous attacks can be. I’ve taken the liberty of blurring out usernames, as well as some of the more colourful vocabulary used, for the sake of the public.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 3

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 34

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 33

These are just three examples of the thousands of hate messages that get sent to people everyday. My question is, why? It’s always been said that bullies bully because they’re unhappy and uncomfortable in their own lives. But, I can’t help but wonder what the cause is behind these anonymous attacks, and why they’ve become

so vicious. Before the internet, I’d never seen such intense bullying in my everyday life on the schoolyard as a child.

What changed? Is it the false sense of anonymity and security that these individuals possess, as stated in the video above? It’s curious to think about. Especially when one takes a look at a post like this.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 31

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 3.24.58 PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 33

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 3.25.35 PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 3.25.50 PM

While the message from this series of event should be “Don’t send anyone hate period”, I find it curious that this particular anonymous individual seemed to understand the consequences of what their actions mean if this user actually had taken their life. So, what is the motive in sending these messages to people? Is it out of some sick form of amusement? Boredom? I find it scary to think about the possibilities myself.

Even scarier is what’s occurring as a result of this hate. Victims are starting to spread hate of their own out of frustration to innocent parties. That’s right, people who have done absolutely nothing wrong are receiving hate of their own from victims of bullying simply because they share similar traits to their attackers.

I don’t know about you, but I find the online community becoming a scarier and scarier place with each passing moment.

What do you think can be done to solve the problem of hate online? Personally, I think we need to start educating children and teens about the consequences of their actions both online and offline a bit more than we already do. Especially when it comes to sending online messages of hate and death threats.

(all examples used in this post are taken from Tumblr.)

COM0011-521 Blog post #6 A visual medium

So, a few of you may know that I’m helping my friend out with her cooking show.  The idea behind it is that she takes a guest from the local music scene and cooks a dish with them using local ingredients.  I know I’ve learned a lot of tasty dishes from her.

I suppose it’s fortunate that most of her content is ready made for the internet.   ‘Foodie’ culture is huge on the internet and is usually an easy sell.  There’s even the idea that we eat with our eyes just as much as with our stomachs.  A video of a dish being made should make our eyes very hungry.

However, YouTube is huge and there are millions of competing chefs vying for your attention.  Her issue is how does she grow her brand.  What I’ve learned is to target the message so that it’s hitting the groups you want.  Your audience might not be hanging out where you expect them to be.

In her case, it would mean creating different types of visual content.  Namely she would be taking pictures of her plated dishes and posting them where they’re most popular: Pinterest.  The idea is that a lot of foodies pay a lot more attention to that type of content there.  Tumblr, with its heavy reliance on pictures is fantastic at drawing in foodies of all stripes as well.  Using those same pictures on Tumblr should work just as well.

Attracting those foodies whom interacted with Tumblr or Pinterest content would simply involve linking them to the YouTube page.  Visual content may be great for social media but you have to get your audience to know about it.